I’ve been somewhat of a procrastinator all my life albeit I’m getting much better with age. I used to wait until the last minute to study for a test or to get a paper in on time but somehow I was able to complete and excel at whatever the task was even with my procrastination. This success with procrastination confused me based on all the crap I used to get from my parents and teachers about waiting to the last minute to do things and how bad they felt it was. I didn’t put much thought into it until I started reading and learning about time management.
I came across this book called the “The Myth of Multitasking.” If you don’t want to read the book, here is a brief summary by the author David Crenshaw I recommend you take a look at. In the book it talks about how inefficient multi-tasking actually is and how the brain actually can’t focus on more than one thing that the same time. Instead it’s called ‘task-switching.’ The problem with task switching is that every time your brain switches a task it loses time and the more tasks you do the more time you lose and therefor the less ability you have to accomplish any one of the tasks effectively. There is a great quote by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield about this where he says “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”
This is why procrastination is so effective for some of us. Think about it, when you waited until the last minute to study for a test what happened when you finally sat down to study? Did you have a bunch of stuff on your desk with music playing and the door of your dorm open for anyone to come in? Or, did you find the deepest, quietest, most secluded place in the library with nothing other than your test book and focused 100% of your attention on learning the material? If you did the latter then your brain was able to focus and absorb the information much more efficiently which is what allowed you to apply the knowledge and pass the test.
The point I’m trying to get across is not to procrastinate, it’s to focus. We get pulled in a million different directions in sales and there is always something to do. If we try to do it all at the same time nothing ever seems to get done, or at least it never seems to get done well. If we segment out what we’re working on and focus on one thing for a period of time we can get way more done. For example, making 50 dials a day a day is hard when you’re writing e-mails, taking breaks, and doing research all at the same time or in between calls. However, if you segment 30 minutes to prep your lists and do research and then segment out an hour on your calendar to do nothing but make the calls, you can make 20-25 quality dials easily in that hour. If you do that twice (once in the morning and once in the afternoon) you’ve hit your 50 dials in 3 hours total and how you have 5+ more hours to do what you want.
My recommendation is to do everything in one-hour blocks and schedule the time on your calendar for each separate task (research, calls, e-mails, proposals, etc). I treat an hour of cold calling the same way I treat an hour meeting with a client on my calendar in that I don’t reschedule it and I don’t let people interrupt me.
Block your time, stay focused and Make it Happen!